While clearing out their parents’ house at 20 Stanley Crescent, Bridget, Matthew, and Vicky Meadows came across three notebooks dating back to 1878 recording the minutes and the accounts of the Garden Trustees. Robert and Joyce Meadows moved on to the garden in 1947 and for the rest of their lives played an active role in rehabilitating and protecting the garden. Robert, as Chairman, kept all the records of the garden and on his retirement these were handed over to his successor, David White. However, the three notebooks were not included and were presumed lost. The Committee was understandably delighted to learn that they had been found. The archive consists of two minute books: the first recording the Trustees meetings and AGMs from 17th December 1878 to 9th March 1929 and the second from 1929 to 1935. The third is an account book covering the same period.
The minute books detail the management of the garden and are not all that different to our minutes with the same issues exercising the patience of its members: dogs, lawns, and games. However, football has replaced tennis. It would appear from the minutes that the garden had a lawn tennis club. The season usually opened on 1st June – the state of the grass permitting. At least one if not two tennis nets were erected on the middle lawn and some years on the top lawn too. Members paid a subscription to join and complaints were regularly made about players cutting in and certain families monopolizing the tennis nets.
At a meeting, held on 14th May 1922, the Trustees considered banning tennis altogether due to the poor state of the lawns. The introduction of golf was raised. However, the July minutes note that after several letters of complaint, the 9 hole putting course on the lower lawn was to be filled in. “Clock golf” was proposed as an alternative, to be played on the middle lawn. Tennis continued to be played until 1934.
The minute books give a delightful insight into life on the garden in the 19th and early 20th century.
The Meadows family has deposited the archive at the RBKC’s Local History Centre in Hornton Street where it can be viewed by appointment – accession number 2013/02.